SS Eider 1892

 January 31st 1892

The SS Eider of Bremen, a four-masted steamer of 4,719 tons was travelling from New York carrying 227 passengers and a crew of 167. There was thick fog and a stiff gale blowing but apparently it was only when the cut-glass of the chandeliers began to clatter that it was discovered the ship was hard aground on Black Slopper Rock. The Brooke Lifeboat with new coxswain, Benjamin Jacobs, along with the Brighstone Grange and Atherfield lifeboats, were called out but the captain repeatedly refused help, expecting the ship to lift off the rocks with the tide. The next day it took the Brighstone, Atherfield and Brook boats eleven dangerous trips to save all the passengers and crew. The reason for the captain’s reluctance to leave the ship became clear when it was revealed that there was £300,000 worth of gold and silver bullion on board. The lifeboats made 41 trips in all to retrieve all the bullion, silver plate and luggage. Heavily armed coastguards stood on the beach waiting to receive it. Expressions of admiration and thanks to the lifeboatmen came directly from Queen Victoria and the German Emperor Wilhelm II, who gave each coxswain a gold watch commending their outstanding courage. Punch magazine presented a citation and an especially written poem to each member of the lifeboat crews.